When Graeme Annabell paid £1000 for 1200 acres (485ha) of scrub-covered land inland from Waverley in 1953, most reasonable, thinking people would have wondered why.
But Graeme Annabell, a man with a big heart and work ethic to match, was then a young man looking to branch out on his own as a farmer after having worked the family farm in the Waitotara Valley for his early working life.
That he chose a property not far from his parents' farm wasn't a surprise. What is a surprise is the spot he bought - in the isolated Moeawatea Valley, a place that challenged even the hardiest of souls. It was an area that could be isolated for weeks, sometimes months, in winter as the only access road became impassable. But none of that deterred the young Annabell.
Born on November 7, 1928, he grew up on his parents' farm at Ngamatapouri. He was never going to be anything but a farmer; however, it didn't stop the young man trying his hand at other pursuits.
Before he got serious about farming, Annabell tried his hand at many things, including one stint at the Ohura coal mine.
He wanted to get into motorcycle speedway riding and saw this as a way to finance that ambition. He got a bike but it didn't pan out quite the way he expected.
"I got a chance to get on the track but, after a couple of laps, my foot went back under the rear wheel. Nothing was damaged but I realised I wasn't cut out for that caper," he said.
Still living with his parents, it use to take him four hours to trek from the Waitotara Valley to the Moeawatea, over razorback ridge lines and through native bush. The alternate route was a long trip by road via Waverley. As it was he walked into the "Moe" with a slasher and started cutting scrub on New Year's Day, 1953.
In an interview with the Chronicle a few years ago he described how he would spend up to three months at a time clearing scrub before walking back over to parents' farm. He survived on a diet of Weetbix and bully beef.
In 1958 he met and married Pam, then a Karitane nurse, and the pair set up house in the Moe in an old weatherboard property built by the first owner of the farm. It had been one of those settled by servicemen returning from World War I.
They stayed there until the mid-1960s, when his father died and they moved back to the Waitotara Valley farm. But in the intervening period Pam had given birth to two of their three children.
Nearly every trip in and out of the "Moe" was a mission. When the papa track wasn't wet they could use the Land Rover. When it became a quagmire - which was often the case - they'd get on the tractor.
In good weather, they'd make a monthly trip to Waverley to get supplies and collect mail.
After his father's death Annabell was running the Ngamatapouri farm as well as the Moeawatea property. Not favouring a four-hour foot slog from one farm to another, or the lengthy - and unpredictable - road trip, he sought the practical travel solution and got his pilot's licence. No small challenge for a bloke who'd blinded his right eye with a bow and arrow when he was five. But with typical stoicism, and helped by then Waitotara MP Sir Roy Jack, the red tape was cut.
His first flight was in late 1964 in a Wanganui Aero Club Cessna. Five years later, he bought a Piper Pawnee in Auckland and flew it back to the Ngamatapouri. The "aerial commute" cut travelling time between the two farms to a mere 15 minutes.
This former topdressing plane had limited room in the cockpit and there were times when the Annabell kids, the odd shearer or two of the dogs were piled into the hopper for the cross-country flights.
Graeme prepared the strips at Ngamatapouri and the Moeawatea, bulldozing them into some semblance of evenness. It was tricky stuff because if there was a crosswind blowing at the "Moe" strip, he would have to keep an eye on a tree at one end of the strip, wait for that to stop moving while also waiting for the windsock to droop. When they both stopped moving "I'd go like hell".
The couple eventually sold both farms and bought a 1500-acre farm at Ararata, inland from Hāwera, as well as leasing 200 acres at Maxwell. But by the mid-1990s Annabell was "sick of farming" so the farm and plane were sold.
Since his "retirement", he hardly slackened off. He helped out occasionally on a local farm and was busy cutting firewood. After the destructive floods of 2004, he was using his dozer-driving skills back in the Waitotara Valley to help clear roads and farm tracks.
He kept a small leasehold block in the Waitotara Valley as his personal bolt-hole where he could go to get back to the sights, sounds and smells of the country that were so familiar to him. Failing health meant he finally had to let go of that remaining link to his remarkable rural life.
In January this year he and Pam celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
But there's one last ironic twist in this man's life. At his funeral one of his grandsons, now operating his honey producing business, explained how he has been busy planting manuka, the same scrub that his grandfather spent years slashing and burning to create his dream in the Moeawatea.
Graeme Annabell died peacefully on May 16 in his 90th year. He is survived by his wife, Pam, a daughter and two sons.